Last spring the Bison men's lacrosse team completed its 50th season as a varsity sport. Since 1968, the inaugural year under then-coach Sid Jamieson, Bucknell lacrosse has developed a proud and successful tradition of representing the University as scholar-athletes, in the very best sense of that often-misapplied term. Moreover, those of us lucky enough to have played for "the Herd" over the years find ourselves members of a family with a strong connection to each season's team, one another and, by extension, the University.
A celebration of the 50th anniversary in April attracted alumni from each of the team's five decades, including more than a half-dozen members of the first varsity men's lacrosse team. Current Head Coach Frank Fedorjaka P'20 and the 2018 team graciously opened their season-ending banquet to alumni, as a tribute to the continuity of a lacrosse program that has maintained its competitiveness nationally — without the benefit of athletic scholarships — throughout a period of explosive growth of the game across the United States and Canada. Coaches Jamieson and Fedorjaka, the only two head coaches in the 50 years of Bucknell lacrosse, together with speakers from the 1968 and 2018 teams all sounded the themes that have driven the lacrosse program from its very beginnings: the pursuit of excellence in athletics, scholarship and character. The men's lacrosse program at Bucknell has achieved — and continues to achieve — success in each of these core objectives. A few examples to back this up:
- Men's lacrosse has won six Patriot League championships since the formation of that league in 1990, and before that two East Coast Conference and one Middle Atlantic Conference championship. Thirty players have earned All-American recognition, including two players from the 2018 squad. Bison lacrosse players have been named All-Patriot League 102 times and Patriot League Player of the Year 18 times. The Bucknell Athletics Hall of Fame includes 11 men's lacrosse players and one of our coaches.
- The 2018 team was ranked as high as 10th in the nation in the two major collegiate polls, the Inside Lacrosse Maverik Media List and the US Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) Coaches Poll, and finished the season ranked 17th and 16th in those polls, respectively.
- Bison lacrosse student-athletes have garnered 18 All-Patriot League Academic honors, and six Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards. The 2018 team had 25 players named to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll. Four players were drafted into the Major League Lacrosse in 2018, second only to Yale.
- Coaches Jamieson and Fedorjaka have each earned Patriot League Coach of the Year recognition, including Coach Fedorjaka's nods in 2009, 2011 and 2018. Coach Fedorjaka is in the top 12 for active head coaches' winning percentage and top 25 for wins. Coach Jamieson was the USILA National Coach of the Year in 1996, following the team's undefeated (12-0) 1996 season, and was a 2018 inductee into the Intercollegiate Men's Lacrosse Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He was given the Spirit of Tewaaraton Award in 2005, acknowledging one who "nobly reflects the finest virtues exemplified in the game, and who, over the course of his or her life, has made a significant contribution to society and to the lives of others."
The list of other awards and recognitions earned by members of the Bucknell lacrosse family is too long to recite in full. Suffice it to say that the men's lacrosse program — and the University community at large — can take great pride in its accomplishments to date and the profile it has earned in the growing sport of lacrosse.
I have personally enjoyed the privilege of friendship not only with my peers, but with founding members of Bison lacrosse and current and former coaches, as well. These connections continue to enrich my Bucknell experience and my life. I take great pride in my college athletic career and in the sustained performance of the program today. It is not my assertion that these relationships and achievements are unique to the lacrosse program, or that they are somehow more valuable than other University-based associations. Men's lacrosse is, rather, another instance in which the shared commitment of Bucknell students to their chosen endeavors has, with the support of the University, fashioned a public representation of Bucknell of which we can all be proud.